Saturday, April 25, 2015

Low Testosterone

We hear a lot about ‘low T’ on the radio and television. According to the advertisements this horrible health condition is robbing the life and energy of any male over forty years of age. With just the right medication, or even supplement your ninety year old grandfather will have just as much energy and sex drive as your forty five year old husband. How much of this is clever marketing, and if there is a grain of truth in it how small is that grain?

The first question is if there is as big an epidemic of low testosterone as the commercials seem to indicate. Actually there is, but it doesn’t start in the forties, it actually can be measured in boys as young as six. Boys six to 12 are showing a 24-34 percent decline in testosterone levels. Women are even showing an 11-24 percent decline between the ages of 40 and 60. Men between 40 and 60 are the worse off; their decline is labelled ‘significant’.

What is causing these dramatic shifts? Two causes that are head and shoulders above the rest are soy and Phthalates.  Phthalates are part of a group of endocrine disruptors that have been nicknamed ‘gender-benders’ because they seem to be changing the hormone levels to such a degree that baby boys are being born with smaller genitals and incomplete descended testicals.  Phthalates are typically found in plastics. Plastic has become almost impossible to avoid in our world. Everything from clothing, to keyboards, food packaging and dishes are made out of plastic. Many of our water pipes are made out of plastic as well.

Soy is considered an estrogenic. Many think this means that those consuming soy make more estrogen, but the studies are showing that they are simply producing less testosterone.  Drugs such as statins can also have these effects.

Boys that have low testosterone have decreased muscle mass, impaired genital growth, reduced body hair, higher pitched voices, longer arms and legs in relation to the trunk of the body, and development of breast tissue.  There is some evidence that the lack of testosterone in the body during puberty make make a difference in sexual orientation.

Men that are declining in testosterone have decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, problems urinating, depression, difficulties with concentration and memory, weight gain, breast enlargement, and possibly a increased risk of heart disease.

Women need testosterone as well. Without it they have difficulty lactating, irregular ovulation cycles, polycystic ovary disease, numerous hormonal disruptions, early or delayed puberty, breast cancer and possibly uterine fibroids.

What can we do if we suspect low testosterone? 

Before having testosterone therapy or taking medications make sure you doctor checks your testosterone levels. Many doctors are becoming so eager to help people they skip this very important step. Medical treatment does have its side effects. They aren’t all pretty. They include an increased risk of high blood pressure, blood clots , increased risk of heart disease, acne, reduced sperm count, male infertility, increased risk of prostate cancer, male breast growth, liver problems, increase male pattern baldness and worsening urinary symptoms.

There are some natural things you can do that don’t carry these risks.
  1.  Get rid of the environmental elements that are lowering your testosterone, plastics, soy and medications.
  2. Exercise, especially using a high intensity method.
  3. Avoid foods that lower testosterone such as sugar, grains, and dairy.
  4. Eat foods that increase testosterone such as egg yolks, avocado, coconut oil, organic grass fed butter, nuts, beets, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage), oily fish, bananas.
  5. Practice intermittent fasting. Include some strength training.
  6. Make sure you get enough, but not too much, zinc.
  7. Get plenty of Vitamin D.
  8. Take herbs that increase testosterone such as Ashwagandha, astaxanthin,  and Saw Palmetto
  9. Reduce stress

In the long run we are responsible for our own health. Take these simple steps to make a big difference in your overall health.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Alzheimers Risk Factors

We all dream of living a long life with both a strong mind and a strong body.  Yet statistics are showing that for those over 65 Alzheimer’s (not to mention other types of dementia) is the third leading cause of death. Someone once said that statistically if we live long enough 100% of us will develop Alzheimer’s. I’m not sure I would go quite so far, but there is still a huge possibility for each of us. What are some of the things we may be doing that increase those odds? What are some things we need to remove from our lives in order to prevent being a statistic? What are some known risk factors?

Aluminum – This is a known neurotoxin, and there are numerous sources of it in our world today. Antiperspirant is probably the best known source of aluminum, but we also get it through aluminum foil, aluminum pans used both for cooking and those used for storing and serving foods.  Here is a list of other places it can be found.
  • Foods such as baking powder, self rising flour, salt, baby formula, coffee creamers, baked goods, and processed foods, coloring, and caking agents
  • Drugs, such as antacids, analgesics, anti-diarrheals, and others; additives such as magnesium stearate
  • Vaccines—Hepatitis A and B, Hib, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), pneumococcal vaccine, Gardasil (HPV), and others
  • Cosmetics and personal care products such as antiperspirants, deodorants (including salt crystals, made of alum), lotions, sunscreens, and shampoos
  • Aluminum products, including foil, cans, juice pouches, tins, and water bottles
Fluoride – This is another known neurotoxin, yet many areas purposely put it in their drinking water.  In addition to water fluoride can be found in some medications, including Cipro as well as in toothpaste, mouthwash and other dental products.

Pesticides – Though not referred to as a neurotoxin it is acknowledged that there is an ‘adverse effect on neurological function and brain health’.  Glyphosate is one form of pesticide. It can be found in most processed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GE sugar beets, corn, and soy, and research shows glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other chemical residues and toxins.

Medications – medications that produce an "anticholinergic" effect, meaning drugs that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system seem to be an issue. The most commonly used anticholinergics were those used to treat depression, antihistamines for common ailments like hay fever, those to assist in sleeping or otherwise to promote drowsiness, and drugs used to treat urinary incontinence. Almost one-fifth of the drugs were purchased over the counter.

High Blood Sugar – This includes people with diabetes, but also those with only slightly elevated blood sugar. Alzheimer’s has even been referred to as Type 3 Diabetes.

Trans Fats - Trans fats are vegetable oils that have had extra hydrogen atoms artificially added, in order to make them solid at room temperature. They are used primarily to extend the shelf life of food and are most often found in fast food, margarine, baked good, coffee creamers and certain other packaged foods such as refrigerated doughs, snack foods and frozen pizza. The researchers believe that trans fats damage memory, in part, by promoting oxidative damage to cells and DNA, including those in the brains.

Vitamin D deficiency – Seniors heading to warmer climates may have something, as long as they spend their days outside in the sunshine and not inside in the air conditioning. A recent study suggests there’s a threshold level of circulating vitamin D, below which your risk for dementia increases. This threshold was found to be right around 50 nmol/L, or 20 ng/ml. Higher levels were associated with good brain health.

Stress - Women who scored highest on a test for neuroticism were twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as women with the lowest scores. Neuroticism is a term used for feeling anxious, fearful, moody, have feelings of envy, jealousy, and loneliness or worrying. The connection between neuroticism and Alzheimer’s isn’t surprising, because this type of personality is a harbinger for chronic stress. Studies have found links between acute and/or chronic stress and a wide variety of health issues, including your brain function. Previous research3 has also linked chronic stress with working memory impairment.

Lack of Sleep - lack of restorative sleep can also wreak havoc on your brain function. Moreover, it can actually lead to loss of brain volume, and may accelerate onset of Alzheimer's disease. The brain uses your sleep time to ‘clean house’. Without this time your neurons will actually begin to degenerate. Unfortunately ‘catching up’ on sleep does not make up for lack of sleep.
Smoking - smokers have a 45 percent higher risk of developing dementia than non-smokers. 14 percent of all Alzheimer's cases worldwide may potentially be attributed to smoking. Smoking is thought to cause dementia by the same biological mechanisms as its contribution to coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, and stroke. Your risks from second hand smoke are almost as high as if you were the primary smoker.

Artificial Sweeteners - Studies are beginning to confirm lingering suspicions that aspartame may play a role in Alzheimer's. Rhesus monkeys fed the chemicals in aspartame developed persistent pathological changes related to the development of Alzheimer's.

Since there is no conventional cure, the issue of prevention is absolutely critical if you want to avoid becoming an Alzheimer's statistic. There are some natural things you can do to slow down and possibly reverse the disease, but prevention is still the best alternative.